By Ivan Carvalho at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium
Two goals from Adriano helped FC Internazionale Milano open their UEFA Champions League campaign with a comfortable victory against Werder Bremen.
There was a dramatic start to the Group G encounter when the German champions were reduced to ten men following the dismissal of defender Valérien Ismael for a professional foul after just five minutes. A difficult task for the underdogs was made even harder, and although Christian Vieri missed the resulting penalty, they had no answer to the dynamic skills of Adriano.
The Brazilian was a menace to the Bremen defence throughout and, but for a second-half miss, could have ended the game with a hat-trick. It was his strong run, latching onto a clever through-ball from Emre Belözoglu, which led to Ismael's dismissal. The centre-half tripped the 20-year-old inside the penalty area, denying him a clear goalscoring opportunity and giving referee Luboš Michel little option but to reach for the red card.
Vieri struck the spot-kick with power and confidence but his shot was too close to Andreas Reinke, who dived low to his right to make the save. The Bremen goalkeeper's heroics inspired his team and Inter initially struggled to make their one-man advantage count.
Adriano spot on
But the game took a decisive turn in the 34th minute when, in a near-repeat of the Ismael incident, Adriano was tripped just inside the penalty area. This time it was Juan Sebastián Verón with the pass though Michel deemed Frank Baumann's challenge worthy of a yellow card. Replacing Vieri as penalty-taker, the Brazilian delivered a clinical strike that sent Heinke the wrong way.
Bremen's woes continued in the 36th minute when captain Baumann, who was injured in the challenge which led to the second penalty, had to be replaced by Ludovic Magnin. Inter nearly extended their lead on the stroke of half-time when Van der Meyde crossed for Vieri whose stabbed effort was directed straight at Heinke.
The second half started with a blow for Inter as they lost captain Javier Zanetti with what appeared to be a muscle strain. This did not affect the game's flow. In the 60th minute, Adriano again showed his prowess by dribbling into penalty box and delivering a precision pass to Vieri, who once more shot at Heinke.
Shortly afterwards, superb wing play from Emre set up Adriano who somehow sliced wide from five metres. Inter were almost punished for that miss as full-time approached but Miroslav Klose's close-range effort was blocked by defender Marco Materazzi in Bremen's best chance of the game.
Home fans, however, had no cause for concern as Adriano was to have the last word in the final minute. The 22-year-old chested down a pass from Verón before placing a low shot into the bottom left corner of goal to seal a fine individual display.
Matchday 2 meetings
Bremen will welcome Valencia CF on 29 September as they attempt to get off the mark, while the side beaten 2-0 by the Spanish champions tonight, RSC Anderlecht, will be Inter's hosts the same day.